A wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST) is a storage technology leader, created through the merger of Hitachi’s and IBM’s hard disk drive businesses.
With approximately 26,000 employees worldwide, Hitachi GST offers a comprehensive product portfolio that sets the standard for hard drive miniaturization, capacity, performance and reliability. Their products include a range of hard drive products for desktop computers, high-performance servers, notebooks and consumer devices.
Being able to monitor Channel performance is critical to all businesses. Without access to timely data, a company cannot respond to changing business conditions and customer needs.
For several years, the marketing, sales and Channel development departments at Hitachi GST had been looking for an easy, flexible method of managing POS and Channel data.
“We started from square one,” explained Barbara Cook, Channel Development Manager at Hitachi GST. “Initially, the sales department exported data from the central SAP system into Excel. Cumbersome as that was, they were able to obtain certain figures, such as quarterly rebate calculations. Within my department, though, there were no automated tools available and no efficient way to get the data we needed.”
In 2004, Cook, her staff and the sales and marketing departments began evaluating solutions that would help them automate distributor and reseller data collection, processing and analysis. Their ultimate goal was to obtain clear, timely data in an easily accessed format that would help them better set goals and more effectively align resources.
“We assessed products from CMR and also one other vendor, whose offering was new and untested and not as robust,” said Cook. “The decision to go with CMR’s Channel POS was fairly obvious from the very beginning, but it was their 90-day proof of concept that cinched the deal. It went very well and clearly demonstrated the power of their solution.”
Actionable, Timely Data In Olap Cube And Crystal Report Format
Channel POS is a supply chain tool that helps Hitachi GST streamline the collection, processing and analysis of POS data from seven distributors in the United States and nine distributors in Europe.
Each month, all distributors are required to send their POS data in a standardized format to CMR. This data is automatically imported into the CMR Channel POS database from which OLAP cubes and Crystal reports can be extracted. POS data can also be exported to Excel for further “on-the-fly” manipulation.
Today there are 30 regular users of CMR and another five to ten that use it less frequently. The Channel Marketing department uses the POS reports to view a snapshot of buying patterns among its customers and to determine if specific marketing activities are having any effect on sales.
“It tells us more about our customers’ buying patterns, so we can target our communications better,” said Cook.
Tailoring Messages To The Right Customer
The Channel POS data is now helping Cook’s department identify customers who might need special attention. For example, of the nearly 30 standard Channel POS reports that are available, several of the distributor and reseller reports can be used to generate target lists for special marketing campaigns around a new product.
“We can use the POS tool to pull out customers who have ordered similar products in the past and tailor the new product campaign to them. We know these customers are interested so that makes our job easier,” Cook added.
“From this report we can pull the info about names and addresses into an Excel spreadsheet.”
This also helps Cook target “lost” customers so that her group can conduct reacquisition campaigns. “Channel POS can very quickly identify a set of customers who might have been ordering our products in large quantities two years ago, but are no longer doing so,” said Cook. “With that list at hand, we can find out why we haven’t heard from them in a while and target a special marketing campaign to them.”
ROI And Rebate Data Readily Available
Channel POS is also being used at Hitachi GST to track rebates, calculate the return on investment of various marketing campaigns and to give the sales team a window into the state of their accounts.
“If sales are down for a given representative, Channel POS can identify trends in customer orders so that the rep can contact the customer and find out what’s going on,” said Cook.
In a similar manner, Channel POS can pinpoint whether resources — both time and people — are being effectively allocated. “We have been quite surprised to find out that the resources we were giving certain customers just weren’t bringing results. This has allowed us to refocus our energies and resources on the accounts that are buying the most.”
Marketing Plan Analysis
On the marketing side, CMR is helping Hitachi GST with their 2006 marketing plan. For example, Channel POS can correlate POS data against various trade show attendee lists. “In that way, it helps us decide if we should go to a particular trade show,” said Cook. “We can immediately see which shows will pack the most punch.” This has helped her eliminate trade shows that cost a lot but aren’t being attended by their biggest customers, and vice versa.
“Channel POS gives us a snapshot of our customers’ buying patterns with drill down capabilities, so we can target our communications better.”
“CMR is terrific with custom reports. If I send in a request for a special report, the response is immediate.”
“The decision to go with CMR’s Channel POS was fairly obvious from the very beginning, but it was their 90-day proof of concept that cinched the deal.”
Barbara Cook, Channel Development Manager